Continued from Temple 1
It was never the intention that any part of the Temple Mayor would ever be
seen again and the zealous had success for almost half a millennium. However, in
1978, diggings to install electrical cables led to the discovery of a large round stone carving of the dismembered body of the goddess Coyolxauhqui. Further
archaeological excavations followed and resulted in the uncovering of parts of
the original Templo Mayor. It has long been known that the pyramids, on top of
which the temples were built, were frequently enlarged by adding new layers to
the existing ones and excavations at this site revealed the remains of seven
stages of construction.
The first part of the museum is these mostly uncovered archaeological
excavations -- even in spring, the sun baked down mercilessly. Special elevated
walkways lead the visitor through the site with explanations (in Spanish only)
at the more important discoveries. Most of the large stone snakes are copies,
with the originals inside the museum to protect the stone from pollution.
The first temple was constructed around 1325, but is still buried underneath
the second stage, which escaped most of the violent destruction of the five
layers above it and is virtually intact. On the right-hand side is the temple to
the god of war: here a small black stone can be seen which was used during the
ceremonies surrounding human sacrifice. Inside the museum is a display of the
obsidian knives that were used to cut out the beating hearts of human
sacrifices. Afterwards, the dead bodies were thrown down the pyramids. At the
left-hand side of the pyramid -- the side of the god of rain and water -- a
chacmool used for more peaceful offerings can be seen. Also note the sloping of
what should have been horizontal surfaces -- a consequence of the soft
foundations of the island, which led to the sinking of the pyramid over time.
Of the newer pyramids, little remained apart from a few of the original steps, which resemble walls as the dirt between them had been removed. Of the most recent pyramid, the one seen by the conquistadors, only the lower levels
remained, including a couple of large stone snakes, frogs, and snaked heads.
The last parts of the excavations are mercifully under cover -- it covers the
quarters of the eagle warriors. Some exquisite wall decorations were preserved. Before entering the museum building, note the surrounding "newer" buildings.
Construction of the enormous Mexican Cathedral started in 1525 and it is
therefore not much older than the final stage of the destroyed temple. Also note
the buildings that were literally cracked open by earthquakes -- a natural
consequence of the drying out of the lake bed on which modern Mexico City was
Continue to Templo 3